RALEIGH, N.C. — A former Kinston fire captain was sentenced Tuesday to 188 months in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement and the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office.
On Feb. 3, Thomas Andrew Taylor, 53, of Grifton, was charged with one count of receipt of child pornography. On March 26, he pleaded guilty to that charge.
According to the investigation, in September 2012, law enforcement in Philadelphia identified Taylor as the individual using a screen name to post pornographic images of children. The following January, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) notified law enforcement that a subject later identified as Taylor accessed Facebook Dec. 22, 2012, to post child pornography. Facebook reported the image to NCMEC Dec. 25, 2012.
A search warrant was executed at Taylor's residence May 31, 2013, and he agreed to a non-custodial interview. During that interview, Taylor admitted using his laptop computer, as well as his Yahoo! and Gmail accounts, to trade child pornography with others. On the way to the interview, Taylor attempted to destroy evidence by throwing a laptop into a creek off Highway 58 North in Kinston. However, law enforcement recovered the computer and processed it for evidence. A subsequent forensic examination revealed that Taylor's child pornography collection included 334 images and 34 videos.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.